Summer is here! Whether you’re soaking up the sun at a local beach, taking a dip in the city’s pools, or staying inside with air conditioning on full blast, you deserve ice cream. With so many great places in the city, it’s almost impossible to actually pick one. But we’re here to help. Ahead, find some of our favorite scoop shops in New York City, from the iconic (The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Big Gay Ice Cream) to the inventive (Malai, La Newyorkina).
Big Gay Ice Cream
Big Gay Ice Cream’s first brick-and-mortar location has permanently closed, as EV Grieve reported on Thursday. The East Village store at 125 East 7th Street opened its doors in 2011 after operating as an ice cream truck for two years. According to the neighborhood blog, the store has been closed since Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus pandemic “pause” order in March and now a for-rent sign hangs in the window.
When we point the finger at gentrifying neighborhoods, the East Village often gets a lot of heat thanks to its quickly climbing rents, shift from a more diverse population (today, roughly 40 percent of the ‘hood is between the ages of 20 and 34), and loss of small businesses. And though this final fact is certainly true, especially as it pertains to eateries (just this past year we said goodbye to Angelica Kitchen, The Redhead, and Lanza’s), the East Vill still has a wealth of independent restaurants that pay homage to its rich immigrant history as well as a crop of new establishments that are sensitive to the community and represent the new wave of foodie culture.
This weekend, two events will explore the past and future of the East Village through its food establishments–a walking tour led by 6sqft’s Senior Editor Dana Schulz for GVSHP will take you through the Italian, Ukrainian/Eastern European, and Indian history and A Taste of 7th Street will offer a self-guided chance to taste samplings from 10 local favorites.
If you’re walking on East 7th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A or in the West Village on 7th Avenue near Christopher Street and see a long line on the sidewalk coupled with smiling faces walking by with ice cream cones, you’ve found Big Gay Ice Cream. The two shops are places where ice cream is not scooped, but swirled, in offerings that have become famous not only for their imaginative ingredients, but their fabulous names. There’s the Bea Arthur, named after the “Golden Girls” actress and activist, comprised of vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed ‘nilla wafter; the Cococone with chocolate ice cream and toasted curry coconut; and perhaps their most well-known, the Salty Pimp, made up of vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, and a chocolate dip.
One of the visionaries behind Big Gay is Douglas Quint, who, along with Bryan Petroff, founded the business in 2009. While it started out as a summer experiment when the two opened an ice cream truck, it quickly developed into something much bigger (a third location recently opened in Philadelphia and the duo published a cookbook last year). 6sqft recently spoke with Douglas to discuss all the magic that takes place at Big Gay, including how the flavors come to be, their three locations, and the best time to stop by for a cone.